RAF -Weapon Systems Operator (Linguist)

Job Description

Weapons System Operators, Linguist, are a vital intelligence asset. They work on board aircraft like the Boeing RC-135 ‘Rivet Joint’. Fluent in two or more languages, they monitor specialist electronic surveillance equipment over foreign and hostile territories.

Typical responsibilities:
Interpret foreign transmissions in real time
Provide up-to-date intelligence to military commanders

Key Facts

Initial pay after training
£34,275 + Benefits
Pay during training
£14,783 + Benefits
Entry level
Usual service
12 Years


Initial Training
Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment
As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about life in the RAF.  You’ll then go to RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire for a 10-week leadership package; this course is physically demanding and fitness is given a high priority throughout.
Graduation from this will be followed by your professional training, which begins with a 13-week generic training course teaching basic aircrew skills, including navigation, aircraft systems’ knowledge and basic survival skills. On completion of this you will be streamed Rotary Crewman, Fixed Wing Crewman, Electronic Warfare, or Linguist (Linguists are pre-streamed on joining the RAF).
Specialist Training
As a Linguist, you will have up to 18 months intensive language training at Chicksands in Bedfordshire or Shrivenham in Wiltshire before going to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire to undergo Technical Applied Language and Operational Conversion Training on the aircraft that you will be operating on.
Foundation Tour
As a Linguist your first tour will be a posting to a flying station in the UK. During this tour you will be in an operational and training role, involving training exercises and detachments both in the UK and overseas. There will be other more experienced Weapon Systems Operators (Linguist) to help develop your skills, knowledge, and experience.
Your Career Prospects
You will join the RAF as an airman under an initial 12 year engagement. Following 4 years service, you will be eligible to apply for an extension of service to complete a pension earning engagement of 20 years service or age 40, whichever is the later, during this time. You will hold the rank of acting Sergeant during your professional training. Once you start your front-line job, and you are assessed as being capable of operating independently, you will be promoted to substantive Sergeant. Further promotion to the rank of Flight Sergeant and beyond is by competitive selection.
Ongoing Development
As your career progresses, we will continue to train you in new skills. There are opportunities to undertake training in further aircrew skills, leadership and management training, and to qualify as an instructor. There are also opportunities to continue with further educational qualifications, including degrees, as your career develops.
Transferable Skills
The skills and experience you gain throughout your career as a Weapon Systems Operator could equip you for a number of civilian jobs, including: air surveillance specialist; translator or interpreter, as well as a host of management roles.
Full Time Regular
Job requirements
You will need a minimum of 5 GCSEs (or acceptable equivalents) at a minimum of Grade C (Grade 4 to 5 with effect from Aug 17), including English Language and Mathematics or 5 Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) Standard Grades at a minimum of Grade 2, including English Language and Mathematics or 5 Scottish National Equivalent (SNE) grades at Grade 5, including English Language and Mathematics.
Linguists also need a modern language, although evidence of an ability to learn languages without a formal qualification may be acceptable.
17.5 – 32 (Must enter phase one training before 33rd birthday)
RAF Requirements
To join the RAF you will also need to meet fitness, health, nationality, residency, and other criteria